Business executives are optimistic about business and economic prospects in 2014, according to new research by Accenture (NYSE:ACN) and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Although most plan to drive growth by prioritizing exports and new products and services, the research reveals that companies have greater potential to focus their digital investments on driving growth and reaching new customers. Of the 1041 C level executives surveyed by the EIU in twenty countries for the report, “ CEO Briefing 2014 – The Global Agenda: Competing in a Digital World,” 76 percent are optimistic for their own organizations’ prospects in 2014, significantly higher than the 55 percent who were positive in the EIU’s 2009 research. Respondents in China, Brazil, Canada and Switzerland were most optimistic about their companies’ prospects. Those in Japan and France were least positive but, even here, more than 60 percent were optimistic for their companies’ prospects. Business leaders are less positive about the 2014 outlook for the economies where they are based, according to the findings. On average 61 percent are optimistic, with respondents in China, the U.S., Canada and Spain most positive. Less than half (48 percent and 47 percent) of Japanese and Korean executives are optimistic about their economies in the coming year. Only 52 percent of French and 51 percent of Italian respondents are positive about the prospects of their economies in 2014. Optimism for the global economy as a whole is more modest, at 44 percent, but the proportion of pessimists has fallen dramatically from 71 percent in 2009 to 15 percent today. Confidence extends to 2014 business performance. More than three quarters (76 percent) of respondents forecast revenue growth in 2014, while 71 percent forecast higher profits. The manufacturing, energy and pharmaceutical sectors are expected to see the strongest revenue growth, according to respondents, with aerospace/defence, agriculture and professional services least likely to.